Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Alan DillonAlan Dillon (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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195. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports that have been offered to IDA Ireland biopharmaceutical client companies to support technology transfers, validation, manufacture and supply of generic Covid-19 vaccines in response to the Irish public health crisis. [16821/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Ireland is a major global centre for Biopharmaceutical manufacture and supply.  In 2019 Ireland was ranked the 5th largest exporter of biopharmaceutical medicines globally with exports of €80 billion. There are 85 IDA supported companies in the sector in Ireland employing over 37,000 people.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing sites in Ireland play a key role in the global supply chain of numerous innovative medicines used to treat a wide range of illnesses. The continued necessity and demand for these medicines remains critical to patient care, and sites in Ireland have remained focused on maintaining operations and supply of these vital medicines. The capabilities of each site are specifically developed for the production of those medicines while ensuring regulatory and safety performance. 

The manufacture of medicinal products, including vaccines, is a complex activity that involves multiple production stages and manufacturing processes, specialist expertise, specific technology solutions and associated infrastructure and a well-coordinated global supply chain. The bulk of global manufacturing to date has been in dedicated vaccine production sites. Modification of an existing facility to manufacture a new product such as a vaccine, would require significant time and capital expenditure and a comprehensive regulatory assessment and is therefore not practical to meet the demands of speed and scale that are required to tackle the pandemic.

We have an ongoing commitment to this critical sector and support innovative companies that are developing the new products and processes that will further develop the industry here in Ireland and help us in the fight against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Products Scheme launched in June 2020 allows additional aid to companies that are developing or producing medicinal products and equipment used in the fight against COVID-19. To date, proposals in response to the fight against COVID-19 have included investments in the area of ventilators, PPE, diagnostics test kits and building capacity for testing and scaling of therapeutics. To-date IDA has approved seven proposals with a combined capital expenditure of €2 million and related grant approval of €7.1 million. Grant draw down in 2020 was in the amount of €2 million.

In recent weeks, a global client of IDA announced plans to manufacture a COVID -19 vaccine drug substance at its facility in Dublin. Expansion plans at this site will allow for the extra production that will be part of the global vaccine supply chain network, contributing to the worldwide supply of the vaccine. This represents a vote of confidence in the Irish life-sciences sector.


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